Hello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. I'm pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently.
This week included A few nice 2012's from LIOCO, a favorite producer. Their "Savia" bottling of Pinot from the Santa Cruz Mountains had all the hallmarks of full-cluster fermentation, and was all the better for the stemmy, green herb note on top of beautiful fruit.
Flora Springs came through with a pretty Merlot, Far Niente with a surprisingly savory and well integrated Cabernet, and Cornerstone Cellars offered a decent rosé of Syrah.
Cantina di Soave is much better known for their whites than their reds, but here are two decent reds from them, with a little age as well.
Finally, Medlock Ames has been consistently making good wine in Alexander Valley since their earliest vintages. Their Fifty Tons Cabernet, a bottling I am unfamiliar with and about which I can find no information about online, is an admirable effort in a very difficult year. It has no trace of greenness to it, but remains quite savory and earthy, and at 13.8% alcohol, represents a wonder of restraint.
All these and more below. Enjoy!
2012 Dry Creek Vineyard "Heritage Vines" Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blackberry pie and blueberry compote. In the mouth, bright blueberry flavors have a nice earthy backdrop and surprisingly muscular tannins. Excellent acidity and not a trace of sweetness. Beautiful earthy and herbal finish. Contains 15% Petite Sirah. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $15. click to buy.
2012 Dry Creek Vineyard "Old Vine" Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black licorice and blackberry. In the mouth, black licorice and blackberry fruit comes wrapped in a muscular blanket of suede-soft tannins. Gorgeous acidity and a nice savory earthiness to counter the boisterous fruit. Excellent. Contains 23% Petite Sirah. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $30. click to buy.
2011 Grgich Hills Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of green herbs, green bell pepper, and cherry fruit. In the mouth, green bell pepper, green herbs and wet earth mix with a core of cherry and tobacco. Great acidity and beautifully fine grained tannins. Likely quite long-lived. 14.2% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $60. click to buy.
2012 Flora Springs Merlot, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cassis and black plum. In the mouth cherry cola and dark chocolate flavors have a smooth polish to them. The faint nutty toast of oak hangs quite far in the background, leaving the fruit to shine in the foreground. Bright and tasty, but a bit high toned.14.4% alcohol. 5300 cases made. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.
2008 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville, Napa, California
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and a hint of black olive. In the mouth, rich black cherry fruit is wrapped in a fleecy blanket of tannins and spiced with black olive tapenade. A deep earthy note rumbles along and lingers for a long time in the finish. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $130. click to buy.
2008 Cantina di Soave "Rocca Sveva" Red Blend, Amarone della Valpolicella, Veneto, Italy
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of stewed cherries and blackberries. In the mouth, raisins, dried black cherries and chocolate mix with leathery tannins. Good acidity keeps the fruit bright. The tannins turn a touch dry in the finish, which is scented with chocolate covered raisins. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $35 click to buy.
2009 Cantina di Soave "Rocca Sveva Ripasso" Red Blend, Valpolicella Superiore, Veneto, Italy
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dried flowers and cassis. In the mouth bright flavors of cassis, blueberry, and licorice mix with violets and wet earth under a blanket of leathery tannins. Excellent acidity makes for a surprisingly light-on-its-feet quality that only increases the wine's charm. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $22. click to buy.
2013 Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of green apple, gooseberries, and a hint of warm hay. In the mouth, bright green and golden apple flavors have a lime zest zing to them with bright acidity. Notes of tart green apple skin and gooseberries linger in the finish. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 8.5 . Cost: $14. click to buy.
2013 Cornerstone Cellars "Corallina" Rosé of Syrah, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Bright baby-pink in color, this wine smells of strawberries and watermelon. In the mouth it is a bright burst of berry flavors borne on a silky texture. Hints of both herbs and citrus mix with a creamy, crème anglaise quality that is unusual. 13.1% alcohol. Score: around8.5. Cost: $25. click to buy.
2012 LIOCO "Estero" Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of crushed nuts, white flowers, and a hint of lemon zest. In the mouth, fantastic acidity makes flavors of lemon zest, lemon curd, and pink grapefruit vibrate with mouthwatering tartness. Notes of SweetTarts and pink grapefruit pith linger in the finish. Juicy, bright, and wonderfully mineral. In the 13.5% alcohol Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $
2012 LIOCO "Laguna" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine has a wonderful floral quality to its raspberry and raspberry leaf aromas. In the mouth, bright raspberry and cranberry flavors have a light piney quality to them, with green herb notes that build through the finish. Excellent acidity gives the wine a citrus note. Tannins are barely perceptible. Mouthwatering. 13.1% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $40. click to buy.
2012 LIOCO "Savaria" Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of cherries, raspberries, green wood and sinsemilla resin. In the mouth, the wine is quite silky, with gorgeous raspberry and cherry flavors mixed with the spicy herbal notes that suggest whole-cluster fermentation. Beautifully faint tannins skirt the edges of the mouth as boisterous acidity keeps the fruit skipping across the palate. Long herbal and wet wood finish. Excellent. 30% stem inclusion, 20% new oak. 13.6% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $45. click to buy.
2012 Recuerdo Malbec, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina
Dark purple in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and blueberry fruit. In the mouth, blueberry compote mixes with black cherry and even some blackberry fruit, all dusted with fleecy tannins. Decent acidity, but the flavors are quite dark and ripe, perhaps a bit too much for my taste. 14.2% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $22. click to buy.
2011 Medlock Ames "Fifty Tons" Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry cola and tobacco. In the mouth dark cherry and tobacco flavors also have a deep earthy quality to them kissed with the faint vanilla of oak. Burnt coffee notes linger pleasingly in the finish. Excellent acidity keeps the fruit bright. 13.8% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $60
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Putting a Cork in Your Thanksgiving Wine Anxiety Plumbing the Depths of Portugal: A Tasting Journey Vinography Images: Rain at Last The Mysterious Art of Selling Direct Critical Consolidation in Wine What Has California Got Against Wineries? Dirty Money for a Legendary Brand Vinography Images: Tendrils Highlights from Tasting Champagne with the Masters Off to Portugal for a Drink
Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 KirÃ¡lyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy